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Allen, Ira (1751-1814), frontier entrepreneur and Vermont political leader  

J. Kevin Graffagnino

Allen, Ira (01 May 1751–15 January 1814), frontier entrepreneur and Vermont political leader, was born in Cornwall, Connecticut, the son of Joseph Allen and Mary Baker, farmers. Little is known of his youth, but in 1770 he followed his five elder brothers north to the New Hampshire Grants region and joined the Yankee versus Yorker struggle, which stemmed from the 1764 Crown decree that New York rather than New Hampshire owned the area that would become Vermont. While brother ...


Benton, William (1900-1973), advertising executive, educator, and politician  

J. Garry Clifford

Benton, William (01 April 1900–18 March 1973), advertising executive, educator, and politician, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of Charles Benton, a Congregationalist clergyman and professor of romance languages, and Elma Hixson, a schoolteacher. After brief military service in World War I, Benton attended Yale University and graduated in 1921. In 1928 he was married to Helen Hemingway. They had four children....


Bowles, Chester Bliss (1901-1986), businessman, politician, and diplomat  

Robert J. McMahon

Bowles, Chester Bliss (05 April 1901–25 May 1986), businessman, politician, and diplomat, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Allen Bowles, a paper manufacturer, and Nellie Harris. His grandfather, Samuel Bowles (1826–1878), a man Chester frequently identified as his inspiration and role model, transformed the Springfield ...


Cohen, Walter L. (1860-1930), businessman and politician  

John N. Ingham

Cohen, Walter L. (22 January 1860–29 December 1930), businessman and politician, was born a free person of color in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Bernard Cohen and Amelia Bingaman, a free woman of color. Although Cohen’s father was Jewish, he was raised as and remained throughout his life a Roman Catholic. His parents died when he was in the fourth grade, whereupon he had to quit school, though he later attended Straight University in New Orleans for several years. As a boy Cohen became a cigar maker and later worked in a saloon. His entrée into the world of politics came during the post–Civil War period of Reconstruction, when he worked as a page in the state legislature, then meeting in New Orleans. In the legislature, Cohen became acquainted with several influential black Republicans, among them, ...


Connor, Patrick Edward (02 March 1820?–17 December 1891), soldier, entrepreneur, and politician  

Ann Engar

Connor, Patrick Edward (02 March 1820?–17 December 1891), soldier, entrepreneur, and politician, was born Patrick Edward O’Connor in County Kerry, Ireland. His exact birth date and the names of his parents are in question. As a teenager, he emigrated with his parents to New York City, where he probably briefly attended public school....


Cooper, William (1754-1809), land developer and politician  

James M. Banner Jr.

Cooper, William (02 December 1754–22 December 1809), land developer and politician, was born in Byberry (now part of Philadelphia), Pennsylvania, the son of James Cooper and Hannah Hibbs, farmers. Only modestly schooled, in 1774 young Cooper eloped with Elizabeth Fenimore, daughter of the well-to-do Quaker Richard Fenimore of Rancocas, New Jersey. They had twelve children, of whom seven lived to adulthood....


Gibbs, Mifflin Wistar (1823-1915), businessman, politician, and race leader  

Loren Schweninger

Gibbs, Mifflin Wistar (17 April 1823–11 July 1915), businessman, politician, and race leader, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Jonathan C. Gibbs, a Methodist minister, and Maria Jackson. His parents were free blacks. His father died when Mifflin was seven years old, and his mother was an invalid. As a teenager, Mifflin attended the Philomathean Institute, a black men’s literary society, and, like his brother ...


Gwin, William McKendree (1805-1885), politician and entrepreneur  

Robert E. May

Gwin, William McKendree (09 October 1805–03 September 1885), politician and entrepreneur, was born in Sumner County, Tennessee, the son of James Gwin, a Methodist minister, and Mary (maiden name probably Adair). He pursued legal studies in Gallatin, Tennessee, and gained admittance to the state bar. Gwin matriculated at Transylvania University in Kentucky in 1825 for the purpose of studying medicine. He received his medical degree on 5 March 1828 and practiced medicine for several years....


Cover Gwin, William McKendree (1805-1885)

Gwin, William McKendree (1805-1885)  


William McKendree Gwin. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-110003).


Johnson, James (1774-1826), soldier, entrepreneur, and political leader  

Lindsey Apple

Johnson, James (01 January 1774–13 August 1826), soldier, entrepreneur, and political leader, was born in Orange County, Virginia, the son of Robert Johnson, a frontier planter and political leader, and Jemima Suggett. Emigrating to Kentucky, the family experienced the dangers of frontier life. According to Leland W. Meyer’s description, during a battle with American Indians at Bryant’s Station (Lexington) in 1782, eight-year-old James extinguished fire arrows on cabin roofs while his mother led a group of women to resupply the station with water....


Napier, James Carroll (1845-1940), politician, attorney, and businessman  

Maceo Crenshaw Dailey

Napier, James Carroll (09 June 1845–21 April 1940), politician, attorney, and businessman, was born on the western outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee. His parents, William C. Napier and Jane E., were slaves at the time of his birth but were freed in 1848. After manumission and a brief residency in Ohio, William Napier moved his family to Nashville, where he established a livery stable business. James attended the black elementary and secondary schools of Nashville before entering Wilberforce University (1864–1866) and Oberlin College (1866–1868), both in Ohio....


Ogden, Aaron (1756-1839), soldier, public official, and entrepreneur  

Paul G. E. Clemens

Ogden, Aaron (03 December 1756–19 April 1839), soldier, public official, and entrepreneur, was born in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, the son of Robert Ogden II, a lawyer, and Phebe Hatfield. He attended the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) and graduated with the class of 1773. Over the next three years he taught school, first in Princeton, then in Elizabethtown, but with the outbreak of hostilities between Great Britain and its American colonies, he was quickly drawn into the revolutionary confrontation....


Percy, Charles Hartung (27 Sept. 1919–17 Sept. 2011), business executive and politician  

Ann T. Keene

Percy, Charles Hartung (27 Sept. 1919–17 Sept. 2011), business executive and politician, was born in Pensacola, Florida, to Edward H. Percy, a bank cashier with distinguished family roots in Alabama and Virginia, and Elizabeth Harting Percy, a concert violinist from Illinois. During young Percy’s infancy the family moved to Chicago, where two more children were born. The Percys led a comfortable life in the 1920s, providing their children with music lessons and other middle-class amenities. By ...


Perot, H. Ross (27 June 1930–9 July 2019), entrepreneur  

Alan Deutschman

Perot, H. Ross (27 June 1930–9 July 2019), entrepreneur and political figure, was born Henry Ray Perot in Texarkana, Texas, the third child of Gabriel Ross Perot, a cotton broker, and Lula May Ray, a secretary at a lumber company. When he was twelve his parents legally changed his middle name to Ross in honor of their firstborn son, Gabriel Ross Perot, Jr., who died of spinal meningitis at age three. Despite the family’s French Canadian heritage, they pronounced their name “PEE-roh,” and only as a young man would Perot acquiesce to being called “puh-ROH.”...


Cover Perot, H. Ross (27 June 1930–9 July 2019)

Perot, H. Ross (27 June 1930–9 July 2019)  

Maureen Keating


Ross Perot with Republican freshmen Congress members speaking at a press conference in the U.S. Capitol, May 1993, by Maureen Keating

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA


Pinchback, P. B. S. (1837-1921), politician, editor, and entrepreneur  

Eric R. Jackson

Pinchback, P. B. S. (10 May 1837–21 December 1921), politician, editor, and entrepreneur, was born Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback in Macon, Georgia, the son of William Pinchback, a Mississippi plantation owner, and Eliza Stewart, a former slave of mixed ancestry. Because William Pinchback had taken Eliza to Philadelphia to obtain her emancipation, Pinckney was free upon birth....


Cover Pinchback, P. B. S. (1837-1921)
P. B. S. Pinchback. Courtesy of the National Afro-American Museum.


Pynchon, John (1626-1703), entrepreneur and politician  

William Pencak

Pynchon, John (1626–17 January 1703), entrepreneur and politician, was born in Springfield, Essex, England, to William Pynchon and Anna Andrew. He sailed with his parents in 1630 to Massachusetts, living with them first in Dorchester and then Roxbury, near Boston. In 1636 the family moved to the Connecticut River, where William Pynchon founded the town of Springfield, which he governed and used to dominate New England’s fur trade. In 1645 John Pynchon married Amy Wyllys, daughter of George Wyllys of Hartford, Connecticut. His future trading partners, Samuel Wyllys and John Allyn, were his wife’s cousins. The Pynchons had five children, three of whom survived infancy....


Cover Roosevelt, Elliott (1910-1990)
Elliott Roosevelt Henry A. Wallace, Elliot Roosevelt, Harlow Shaple, and Jo Davison, 1947. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-117441).


Roosevelt, Elliott (1910-1990), advertising executive, public figure, and author  

Robert L. Gale

Roosevelt, Elliott (23 September 1910–27 October 1990), advertising executive, public figure, and author, was born in New York City, the son of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the thirty-second president of the United States, and Eleanor Roosevelt. He attended Groton Academy in Massachusetts (1923–1929) and Hun School in New Jersey (1929–1930). He declined to follow the family tradition and did not go to Harvard but entered the business world instead. He was an advertising account executive in one firm (1930), vice president of another (1931), and then an account executive in yet another (1932). He became aviation editor for the ...